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On her self-titled debut, English electronic producer Kelly Lee Owens carefully weaves lyrical threads through her avant-pop club songs. Owens came from an indie rock background, but years working in record stores opened her up to the sounds of drum and bass, Krautrock, minimalism, and dream pop, all of which factor into the palette of her enveloping new album. On the record, Owens’ vocals hover over shuffling beats and spacey washes of synth, alternately sounding rapturous and spooky. Her rhythms are insistent, often blooming into hard grooves, and while the songs cross-skip across genre, they’re held together by Owens’ songwriter instincts and an abiding electronic warmth.

“I kind of gravitate to bass quite a lot, this underwater, immersive kind of hug that it gives you,” Owens says from her management’s offices in Camden.

If her time working in record shops informed her musical ideology, it was her time working as an auxiliary nurse in a cancer treatment hospital that suggested a holistic aim for her songs. With her recordings, Owens hopes to offer “immersive, sound healing,” the kind of music that serves the needs of the contemplative as well as those looking to escape on the dance floor.

Kelly Lee Owens :: Bird

Aquarium Drunkard spoke with Owens about building her sound from the ground up, matters of femininity and masculinity, and, with the help of a psychic, we explored the role musical innovator Arthur Russell has played in her career. This interview has been edited and condensed.

Aquarium Drunkard: You worked in a hospital specializing in cancer treatment. Did the notion of creating music with therapeutic properties kind of take root there?

Kelly Lee Owens: It’s funny, I thought my work as a nurse was a completely separate thing from my music, but it isn’t and realizing that while discussing the album has been nice. Working in the hospital, it was all drug-based therapies, which are necessary for the most part. But I really felt like something was missing. There wasn’t a focus on the whole spectrum of well-being. I feel like creativity and music is so healing, it’s part of that, and I wondered how I could bring those two worlds together. I didn’t think it was possible, but the more I’ve looked into the science of sound, the more I realized they’re shattering cancer cells with resonant frequencies. At that time, I was going to a lot of gong sound baths. It was an experience of letting the music wash over you. You let go, ultimately, of control. I’m used to controlling sounds in a certain way. It was a new experience for me to just kind of let it be. It was quite a profound thing. I think [album closer] “8” brought that out in my own music, just letting something be and expand. It’s all connecting slowly, I think.

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As we mentioned last month, New West Records is in the midst of a massive reissue campaign of the late Vic Chesnutt’s discography, beginning with his 1990 debut (the Michael Stipe produced Little), on through 2005’s Ghetto Bells — his final LP for the label prior to moving to Constellation Records in 2007.

Which brings us to What Doesn’t Kill Me, a companion of sorts to Peter Sillen’s seminal Chesutt documentary, 1993’s Speed Racer. Clocking in at an hour and half, What Doesn’t Kill Me does an excellent job responsibly documenting the myriad of nuance that was Chesnutt the artist/person. Required viewing for both the curious and the converted.

What Doesn’t Kill Me: The Life and Music of Vic Chesnutt, directed by Scott Stuckey. Streaming below in its entirety.

Related: Vic Chesnutt :: Everybody Hurts (R.E.M.)

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Our weekly two hour show on SIRIUS/XMU, channel 35, can now be heard twice, every Friday – Noon EST with an encore broadcast at Midnight EST.

SIRIUS 477: JJean Michel Bernard – Générique Stephane ++ Kevin Morby – Wild Side (Oh The Places You’ll Go) ++ B.F. Trike – Be Free ++ Dinosaurs – Sinister Purpose ++ Flaming Groovies – Golden Clouds ++ The Ramones – Oh Oh I Love Her So ++ The Nerves – Stand Back And Take A Good Look (Demo) ++ Chris Spedding – Bored Bored ++ The Lovin’ – I’m In Command ++ Giant Jelly Bean Copout – Awake In A Dream ++ Velvet Underground – I Found A Reason (Demo) ++ Mahmoud Ahmed – Wogenie ++ Agincourt – Mirabella ++ Trap Door – £™ ++ Human Expression – Calm Me Down ++ J.J. Cale – In Our Time ++ West Coast Consortium – Listen To The Man ++ Wimple Winch – The Last Hooray ++ The Squires w/ Neil Young – I’ll Love You Forever ++ Erasmos Carlos – Grilos ++ Lazy Smoke – There Was A Time ++ Bob Lind – Cool Summer ++ Nico Gomez And His Afro Percussion, Inc. – El Condor Pasa ++ Ted Lucas – Now That I Know ++ The Troggs – Push It Up To Me ++ The Flying Burrito Brothers – Tried So Hard ++ The Equals – Can’t Find A Girl To Love Me ++ The Dovers – About Me ++ The Blue Rondos – Little Baby ++ The Allah Las – Come On (Aquarium Drunkard Session) ++ The Allah Las – I Cannot Lie (Aquarium Drunkard Session) ++ The Allah Las – Lady Rachel (Aquarium Drunkard Session) ++ Margo Guryan – Sunday Morning ++ Neil Diamond – Someday Baby ++ Brinsley Schwartz – Hymn To Me ++ Creation – How Does It Feel To Feel ++ Jonathan Halper – Leaving My Old Life Behind ++ Blue Things – High Life ++ Chico Buarque – Funeral De Um Lavrador ++ Arzachel – Queen St Gang ++ Savages – I Believe ++ Druids Of Stonehenge – Speed ++ Flamin Groovies – Shake Some Action ++ Kim Jung Mi – Oh Heart ++ Misunderstood – I Can Take You To The Sun

*Listen for free, online, with the SIRIUS three day trial — just submit an email address and they will send you a password.
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Over the past three and a half years, the young, hairy Japanese psychedelic outfit Kikagaku Moyo has quietly amassed a devout cult following via legendary performances across the United States, UK, Europe, and Australia. Not to mention a steady drip of outstanding and brain-bending releases, including Kikagaku Moyo, Mammatus Clouds, and Forest of Lost Children. The first few came on Greek, British and American labels, and since on the band’s own imprint, Guruguru Brain, supported by a legion of “old psych head” fans in faraway places like Serbia and Israel that regularly buy out the label’s vinyl pressings within weeks. Kikagaku Moyo’s self-released 2016 LP, House in the Tall Grass, was one of the most lucid highlights of last year, even if it was more or less unsung. This publication did call it a “flawless and captivating record.” That is not at all an overstatement.

The group now has an excellent new EP, Stone Garden, out tomorrow. It was recorded over two days last year in Prague. The sessions were cut up and spliced together to make five tracks, which proceed from beginning to end with an undulating sense of urgency. “Backlash” and “Trilobites” make frenetic, experimental movements, while “Nobakitani” refines the sprawling meditations of Mammatus Clouds into an elegant and leisurely 8-minute daydream. Both “In A Coil” and “Floating Leaf” harness a murky, propulsive groove, as if “Green Sugar” from House in A Tall Grass was poured into a flooded creek bed atop Mt. Fuji and left to run down the mountain. During our recent conversation at Chatei Hatou in Shibuya, drummer Go Kurosawa mentioned that he wanted to draw on the band’s earliest experiences, when they “only had energy.” Stone Garden is certainly energetic. It’s also invigorating; a descriptor that you look for in psychedelic music. Especially when you need a bite of something to keep the trip flowing in the right direction.

Stream Stone Garden below and read on to learn more about the genesis of Kikagaku Moyo, their struggles developing as an up-and-coming live act in Japan, and the other bands on their label, Guruguru Brain, that are poised for a similar breakout. words / j steele

Aquarium Drunkard: How did y’all start?

Kikagaku Moyo: I met Tomo, the guitarist. He was living in the US studying film. He got back and we met up and said, “Ok. Let’s [start a] band.” Two people. I wanted to play drums, but I had never played before. Tomo played guitar, he said. But he couldn’t really play. [Laughs] So we used an old studio almost every night, from midnight until the morning. Our friend was working there, so we could use it for free. We would play a loop and try to jam. And soon after we saw, “Oh, we cannot do anything.” We were only a two piece so what could we do? Either garage, like garage rock, or psychedelic, which can be kind of stupid.

And then we tried to find people. But we wanted to find people who didn’t have experience. And like, don’t know how to play, but just want to play music together. We put many signs everywhere and went to college and made a psychedelic poster and gave it to people. Tomo actually got in trouble at college because he put it everywhere. “You cannot do that. What’s this psychedelic poster everywhere?!” [Laughs] And then we found our bassist one day. He was recording vending machine sounds with a recorder for his drone project. We talked to him, “What are you doing? Let’s play music.” “Oh, okay.” The other guitarist. He was working in the same college that Tomo went to. He looked really weird. Huge beard. Long hair. Rolling cigarette…”Do you play?” “Yeah, yea, yeah.” “Do you want to play in a band?” “Yeah, okay.” We didn’t know anything. Then my brother plays sitar. He was in India and came back. So all of us played music and that’s how we started.

Gig wise it’s difficult because we have totally different system. We have to pay to play. Usually $300 for a 30-35 minute set. We did that a few times. “This is not going anywhere.” So we decided to go abroad. We did an Australian tour for two weeks and then it started happening. We got offers from a label and we played Austin Psych Fest / Levitation in 2014.

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Volume three of Abstract Truths, An Evolving Jazz Compendium. If unfamiliar with the series, please first read here about the its genesis and intention. For this installment our friend, record collector and audio archeologist Eothen Alapatt, of Now Again Records, is behind the boards. Below, Alapatt shares some insight behind his 26 selects and beyond . . .

These are songs that I listen to and think of as jazz, even though many of the artists here aren’t considered jazz musicians by collectors (or perhaps didn’t consider themselves). For instance, that Phil Pearlman tune I find as intriguing and captivating as any long mode jazz tune, and it displays jazz conventions for days – but Pearlman himself considered himself a rock musician, and his music is loved by psychedelic collectors.

A good part – perhaps the majority of my collection – is jazz, and when I record my albums so I can listen to them in my car or whatever, I normally do so in a way that I hope makes for compelling listening. And that to me means finding similarities between what might be considered opposing tracks. In the case of that Pearlman track, I was listening to it next to the Clifford Jordan track, and found that they sat well together.

Download: Abstract Truths: An Evolving Jazz Compendium – Volume Three (zipped folder)

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For Kinks guitarist Dave Davies, music isn’t an intellectual pursuit. In Davies’ mind, creation is a purely instinctual action, not a result of the brain so much as the gut.

“When you first start to get into music, you write something and if it feels good, maybe it is good,” Davies says over the phone, reflecting back on the early days of the Kinks, the legendary rock & roll band he formed with his brother Ray in 1964. In the years since those nascent days in Muswell Hill, the Davies brothers have feuded off and on, but Dave’s reputation as a hard rock and punk pioneer has only solidified. His raw guitar sound has inspired countless followers, including Ty Segall and Chris Spedding, who both appeared on his 2013 solo album I Will Be Me.

But Davies’ latest is a more personal, stripped-down affair. Called Open Road, it was recorded with Dave’s son Russ. Though the two have collaborated together for years now, the record marks a shift from electronic experimentation to more traditional singer/songwriter format. AD spoke with Davies about the record, some recent Kinks demos, his attraction to metaphysics, and abiding love of science fiction. Our conversation has been condensed and edited.

Aquarium Drunkard: You’ve collaborated with your son Russ for quite a while now. But Open Road is different than your previous collaborations. How did it work, melding your sensibilities as a songwriter to Russ’ more electronically-focused angle?

Dave Davies: We’ve wanted to do something more in the vein of a rock album…[Russ] was really keen on getting into this new area.

AD: What’s it like writing with your son? As a songwriter, part of your job is to get somewhere very vulnerable and open. Is getting to that space with your son interesting?

Dave Davies: Russ is a very confessional, very sensitive musician, so it was comforting to work within that trust. The two of us working together helped emotionally; I wasn’t so worried about opening up to him, he knows me pretty well. I could trust him with my thoughts and feelings and likewise. There’s a line on “The Path Is Long” that goes, “You and I/We need to trust.” I really hooked into that. Trust is important when you’re working so closely on a project like this, or any creative project. That trust element totally freed us both up to try things out.

AD: There seems to be a theme of “family” running through your work. You founded the Kinks with your brother Ray. And while it’s difficult to pick a favorite Kinks record, most days Muswell Hillbillies is my favorite. On that record you were drawing from the people around you and to some degree, your own family history.

Dave Davies: Ray and I were obviously very influenced by country music, especially in the early days, with Hank Williams, Earl Scruggs, Lester Flatt. But the heart of the album, the theme really, is about a family having to move to another part of the city, focusing on tales about different characters in the family and what they did. It’s one of my favorites too, along with Arthur. I like them all for different reasons, they’re very different from each other. That’s been the joy of being in a band like the Kinks. There’s a wealth of ideas me and Ray can draw from, including our childhood, our family.

Megan Sue Hicks

Anthology Recordings is gearing up to shine an in-depth light on a collection of rare psych, rock, and folk nuggets sourced from 70’s Australia. Compiled by countryman Mikey Young (Total Control, Eddy Current Suppression Ring) and Anthology’s own Keith Abrahamsson, Follow The Sun drops May 5th and is sure to soundtrack a score of fazed-out summers. Following the premiere of Mata Hari’s blissed garage cut “Easy” comes Megan Sue Hicks’ “Hey, Can You Come Out and Play, ” a slice of loner folk that evokes the likes of Kathy Heidman and Linda Perhacs, tailor made for rolling down some desert highway. Check out the video, with illustrations by Total Control’s James Vinciguerra, below. words / c depasquale